My latest novel – my tenth – Nebrodi Montains: Th Billionaire and the Mafia is out.
What happens when a Black American billionaire with feral business instincts engages with a violent Sicilian Mafia family? Will his wealth become the justification for an affair that funds a migrant charity?
The billionaire and his wife, the migrant charity couple, and the Mafia family find that they are neighbors in the mysterious Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily.
Jerry Johnson, an African American billionaire from the Bronx, New York, and his young Spanish wife, Balencia Hidalgo, an accomplished artist, have renovated and enlarged their 18th-century residence in the small village of Gabiana in the Nebrodi Mountains.
The Johnson’s new neighbours are David and Eva Pretorius, who work for a refugee charity in Sicily.
Situated between the two couples is the Forio family, of which Salvatore (known as Shorty) is the head. Shorty has a wife and three married children living with him, and they are Mafia.
“This is a fast-paced, action-packed tale that skillfully showcases love, family, tragedy, and loss amidst a bevy of criminal activity.” – Blue Ink Reviews
Jerry Johnson, a African-American billionaire, from Bronx, New York, and his younger Spanish wife, Balencia Hidalgo, an accomplished artist, have renovated and enlarged an eighteenth-century residence in the small village of Gabiana in the Nebrodi Mountains of Sicily. The Mansion has a full-scale drone helicopter to transfer Jerry to Palermo Airport for his business trips. The Johnson’s new neighbours are David and Eva Pretorius, who are mid-forties, both working for a refugee charity in Sicily. David is South African, and Eva is Italian-Swiss. Living on the road between these two families is the Forio family, of which Salvatore (known as Shorty) is the head. Shorty has a wife and three married children living with him. They are mafia. The Johnsons and the Pretorius become friends.
Shorty’s elder son, Giuseppe (knows as Shark) gives a local shepherd a severe beating for refusing Shorty’s order not to graze his sheep on Jerry’s property. Shorty had an illegal arrangement with the previous owner which allowed him to collect a European Union subsidy. Jerry entices Shorty into consideration of a business relationship, which results in the carabinieri being involved and the shepherd receiving an apology.
The Johnson children, aged 20, 18 and 16 and the Pretorius children, aged 15 and 13 are walking between their two houses. They have asked Loredana aged, 24, who is the Pretorius children’s teacher in the local school, and has become a friend of Eva’s, to join them. Loredana is Shorty’s youngest child. She has severed all connections to her family because of they are Mafiosi. As they pass Loredana’s former home, they are attacked by a dog and threatened with a gun by Shorty’s son, Lazzaro. This altercation ends up in court where Lazzaro is found guilty of perjury and assault.
David, who was a curator at the Uffizi Museum in Florence before he met Eva, believes that three antique religious paintings in Father Pino, the local priest’s office, may be originals by the fifteenth century Italian painter, Crivelli. They are professionally examined and found to be Crivellis, worth an estimated £10 million.
Aisha, a nineteen-year-old single woman from Burkina Faso makes the hazardous trip across North Africa and the Mediterranean, ending in Eva’s hostel. Months later she is abducted with five other women, by thugs under the control of Shorty’s older daughter, Giovanna, raped and forced into prostitution in Rome. Aisha escapes, the police are called in, and Giovanna is found guilty of modern slavery, human trafficking and accessory to murder and assault.
Jerry hires Shorty and Lazzaro, for one hundred thousand euros, to take actions which result in his offer to buy a large neglected vineyard to be accepted. Jerry travels to Rome to bribe two deputies (MPs) to introduce legislation which will permit him to build, operate and sell a huge solar energy power plant for a profit of seven hundred million euros.
David and Eva, who are having difficulty raising the necessary funds to support their charity. They approach Jerry for a donation of one million euros. Jerry visits Eva’s hostel and proposes a monthly contribution of € one hundred thousand if she has sex with him during his monthly visits. She reluctantly agrees. Balencia discovers her husband’s unfaithfulness and informs David. Jerry and Eva are confronted, and their spouses decide to take trips: Jerry to Florence to try to regain his old job at the Uffizi, Balencia initially to Spain, but later to Florence where she and David have an affair. The married couples reconcile. Jerry agrees to The Giving Pledge, putting fifty percent of his five billion dollars into a charitable trust.
Santiago and Loredana fall in love. Lazzaro, furious at Santiago’s testimony at the trial which results in him facing a five-year jail sentence, shoots and kills Santiago when he and Loredana are on a camping trip in the Nebrodis. The Anti-Mafia Department, assisted by Loredana, the shepherd, and the Pretorius children gather the evidence which results in a life conviction for Lazzaro.
Shorty, enraged at the convictions of two of his children by what he sees as the actions of Jerry and prohibited by his wife from attacking Loredana, shoots down Jerry in his drone. Jerry survives the attack. Loredana induces family members to ‘turn grass’ and the Anti-Mafia Department gathers the evidence to convict Shorty of attempted murder. Aisha is hired to be Jerry’s carer.
David succeeds in obtaining the Crivellis for the Uffizi and is rehired is deputy curator. Eva is hired to work from home in Florence for the Johnson Trust.